After five years of collecting information, the Black Heritage Walking Tour brochure was presented at the City Council meeting Wednesday.
The map takes readers on a self-guided walk to 13 sites that highlight past area leaders and African-American organizations within a mile radius of the Square.
“(The sites) signify the struggle for freedom, which spans the period from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement,” the brochure states.
The new tour was a joint project between black community leaders, the Marietta Visitors Bureau and the city of Marietta.
Committee members included Cobb NAACP President Deane Bonner, City Manager Bill Bruton, Director of the Marietta Visitors Bureau Theresa Jenkins and Kennesaw State University history professor Tom Scott. Also on the committee were Pearl Freeman, the widow of a past Cobb NAACP President; Felicia Taylor, the daughter of Hattie Wilson, who worked at the Fort Hill Branch Library from 1951 until 1986; and Louis and Josetta Walker.
Louis Walker is a retired industrial arts teacher, and his wife is a Zion Baptist Church member.
Freeman told the council Wednesday night that she was honored and pleased to be part of the committee.
Scott said they met in City Hall for a year and listened to residents share stories from their childhood, which included a firsthand account of a sit-in at a downtown dinner in the early 1960s.
“The black history of Marietta isn’t well known, except by maybe old-timers and historians,” Scott said.
Moments in time
The site list begins with Andrew Rogers’ barber shop that dates back to the 1880s, which once stood on the corner of South Park Square and Powder Springs Street.
The brochure says Andrew Rogers was a prominent businessman who invested in the First National Bank, but that his black employees serviced all white customers, which was a “typical arrangement throughout the South in the age of segregation.”
The brochure map also lists organizations that were a great symbol for the black community, such as the Blue Eagle Fire Company that was formed by volunteer black firefighters in 1881 to protect the city.
It is now the location of the Marietta Fire Museum.
The Black Heritage Walking Tour includes locations where community groups gathered for generations.
One destination is where the first Turner Chapel Church stood at Lawrence and Waddell streets.
The pamphlet said the building was purchased in 1867 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The original church was demolished in the 1970s.
Most of the other highlighted properties have gone through periods of renovations to address a changing city.
For instance, a four-room high school on Lemon Street that opened in 1930 had many periods of expansion until it was closed in 1967, the year black students were integrated with white pupils at Marietta High School, according to the brochure.
The nearby elementary school had a similar history, and is now being used for storage by the Marietta School System.
As the committee’s leading historian, Scott said he spend the largest amount of time going through old school board minutes to get an accurate timeframe of changes to the Lemon Street schools.
Scott said the success of former businesses and the fond memories of people who attended the all-black schools is an important part of how Marietta came to be the city it is today.
“The real challenge is condensing the research into something that will be meaningful,” Scott said.
Detailing the past use of the elementary school and high school on Lemon Street gives a historical prospective on buildings the community is hoping can be revived to impact a new generation of children.
Jenkins told the City Council the 13 sites will be further highlighted when the city provides plaques with information at each location.
She said once that step is completed, the committee has plans to produce a driving tour of the black heritage sites, with possibly more information through an audio feature or a mobile app.
The brochure is available online at www.marietta square.com or at the Marietta Visitors Bureau at 4 Depot St., City Hall at 205 Lawrence St., and Old Zion Heritage Museum at 165 Lemon St.
Mayor Steve Tumlin said while recognizing the committee on Wednesday, “It is wonderful when history comes alive.”